West of Rocky Mountain National Park, go on a cattle drive followed by whitewater rafting.
You haven’t really vacationed in Colorado until you’ve ridden a horse and rafted the Colorado River in one day.
No place makes this feat easier to accomplish than the authentic western town of Kremmling, 40 miles west of Grand Lake and the west entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. Kremmling lies in the heart of Colorado’s ranching country, but don’t let this one-stoplight town fool you. It’s home to five river-rafting companies, a 10-minute drive to three reservoirs and the headquarters of Big Shooter Coffee where you can get a great cup of joe downtown.
Do a Cattle Drive or Horseback Ride
After finishing your latte, head to the Rusty Spurr Ranch just three miles out of town to start your Saddle-to-Paddle adventure. If you really want to feel like a cowboy, you can participate in an honest to goodness cattle drive, followed by a BBQ lunch, because you will work up an appetite.
“I am a city girl, but on this cattle drive, they match your riding experience to your horse,” says Shelly McManus, Executive Director of the Kremmling Area Chamber of Commerce. “They teach you the skills and when you are comfortable you start to round up cattle. The next thing you know you’re a full fledged cowgirl." she say's jokingly. "It really is an awesome experience and you start to understand the cattle's mentality. It felt like a scene directly out of a Western movie."
Once you’ve stomped around enough in your cowboy boots, leave the barn behind and head to the river. You can sign up for a rafting excursion in Kremmling at its various river rafting companies. There are many different options available and the rafting companies can customize a trip to match the experience you are looking for, and all the gear you will need is included.
Raft the Colorado River
Perhaps you want a relaxing half day float in calmer water (Class 1 and 2 rapids) that the whole family can enjoy, or maybe you're a thrill seeker that wants the adrenaline rush of Gore Canyon, a Class 5 trip with some of the gnarliest water in Colorado. You could also extend your stay and experience the peace and serenity of an overnight trip, where attentive guides cater to your needs. Whatever trip you choose will include beautiful scenery and a lifetime of great memories.
Kremmling is where you pick up the Trough Road, a scenic byway lined with some of the state’s most breathtaking and largely undiscovered sweeping canyon views. Many rafting put-ins and camp grounds are along this 19 mile stretch of dirt road. Paradise has a name in these parts, and it’s called Rancho Del Rio, a quirky settlement along a calm section of the Colorado River.
Check Out Rancho Del Rio
If you have experience rafting and kayaking, you can rent equipment here including boats, life jackets and wet suits at the Soggy Dollar, a log cabin-turned-rafting headquarters for the Colorado River Center in Rancho Del Rio. If you prefer to go solo or with a friend they also rent stand-up paddle boards and “duckies.” Rancho Del Rio also offers shuttle service to all of the put-ins along the Upper Colorado so leave the driving to them. Otherwise, go on a guided trip and kick back as your guide fills you in on the area’s geologic and cultural history.
You’ll find a joie de vivre energy in Rancho del Rio among the free-wheeling resident dogs, a convenience store housed in an old log-hewn cabin, a boat rental shop, a camping area and an open-air food shack called “KK’s BBQ Center of the Universe.” Pull up a wooden stool here after an afternoon of rafting. A beer at the center of the universe never tasted so good.
After a full day of exhilarating fun, it's time to grab a bison burger and drink a cold beer in Kremmling or maybe head to the hot springs up the road in Hot Sulphur Springs.
For more information:
Kremmling Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center
203 Park Ave, Kremmling, CO 80459